Unique approach taken to support students and families in Forest Lawn
A large number of community partners have come together for an ambitious pilot project supporting students and their families in two southeast elementary schools and the surrounding community.
The Integrated School Support Project (ISSP) is a prevention-based initiative that is designed to provide targeted services addressing a variety of needs within a diverse school and community. ISSP merges a number of new and pre-existing programs, to create a supportive environment in which a child can attain personal success, both academically and socially.
The objective is to ensure students and their families receive the necessary supports in the school, including a positive police presence, on-site psychologist, physical education specialist, social worker, access to a health clinician, breakfast and lunch programs, and after school programs that include mentoring and tutoring.
The approach is based on a holistic perspective, which encompasses nutrition, fitness, academic success, emotional well-being and building a safe and strong community.
ISSP is currently being piloted in two elementary schools located in the Forest Lawn community, Patrick Airlie School from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Holy Trinity School from the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD).
In the future, the ISSP will look at providing other resources for families and the community, including pre-natal support and education, resources for community beautification projects and creating programs for parents that address needs as identified by community members.
The selection of the schools was based on a variety of needs and factors as identified by the partners. Initially, ISSP will serve children and youth aged four to12 years, their families and the community. As the project expands, it will include infants and youth up to the age of 18.
After evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot project, it is hoped this approach could be expanded to other schools and communities.
The project has a number of long-term projected outcomes:
- Increase in physical and mental well-being for children and caregivers.
- Improved academic achievement for students and increased high school completion rates.
- Increased pro-social behaviour among students.
- Increased community engagement for both parents and children.
- Reduction of high-risk behaviours within the school and greater community.
- Reduction of overall criminal behaviour in the community.
- Increased access to specialized services related to poor health, abuse or addiction.
The program will include the following components:
- Psychologist: Funded by the Calgary Police Foundation, one psychologist in each school will provide educational assessment to students as well as counselling to students and families.
- Multi-Agency School Support Team (MASST): Comprised of a police officer and a social worker, this team will provide enhanced support to at-risk children and their families. The social worker position is provided by The City of Calgary Community and Neighbourhood Services.
- Start Smart Stay Safe (S4) Officer: A School Education Officer (SEO), trained to deliver strengths-based lessons and messaging focused on positive relationships and resilience to elementary aged children will also be a consistent presence, supporting the schools in a community building capacity.
- Socio-Emotional Learning: Along with the above components, Hull Services currently partner with Patrick Airlie School in Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies (PATHS®), a universal violence prevention, social-emotional learning curriculum.
- Physical Education and Activity: Funded by the Calgary Police Foundation, one teacher has been added to each school to support students and staff in making the connection between fitness, learning and emotional well-being on a daily basis. As well, Sport Chek is contributing to the tremendous benefits of physical activity by donating wearable technology such as fitness monitors. In addition, The Big Give Project will be initially supporting with the physical well-being and fitness of students through the donation of equipment, such as running shoes.
- Academic Support: Calgary Reads provides a variety of supports for students as well as their families. These include one-on-one mentoring for struggling readers in grades 1 and 2, family literacy nights, and many other literacy and reading programs. The Calgary Public Library, through their after school programming, will be providing tutoring and supports through Math Minds, reading buddies, Read Aloud and Computer Buddy programs.
- International Avenue Beat Team Officers: A team of 16 officers that was launched in July 2014, to patrol the 17 Avenue S.E., area by foot to provide a positive police presence and to increase safety in the community. These officers have had regular positive interactions with students and their families, in many cases changing their perception of police.
- After school programming: To provide students with the opportunity to participate in constructive activities after school hours, the YMCA will offer their community outreach programs at Patrick Airlie School, including Active Y Kids, School Support Program, and a Leadership Program. Pre-existing community after school programming is already offered at Holy Trinity by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.
- Nutrition and food safety: Through the support of Meals on Wheels, the breakfast and lunch clubs will be expanded to ensure that all children are receiving healthy meals and snacks. Both schools already benefit from Food and Nutrition at School (FANS) and the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.
- Family services: To break down barriers in accessing basic needs, the school will be used as a hub for services and resources to support families, such as the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® and the Alex Dental Health Bus to provide nutrition education, adult health screening, dental care support, and vision screening.
The following organizations either bring new services to the schools through ISSP, or have pre-existing programs in the schools:
Calgary Police Foundation: Provide funding for hiring school psychologists and physical education teachers, as well as various project activities.
Calgary Police Service: Provide startup funding for the project team, International Avenue Beat Team, Start Smart Stay Safe (S4) program, Multi-Agency School Support Team (MASST).
Calgary Board of Education: Support within Patrick Airlie School.
Calgary Catholic School District: Support within Holy Trinity School.
The City of Calgary: Community & Neighbourhood Services: Provide a social worker as part of the MASST program.
A number of areas of The City of Calgary provide ongoing support to community efforts, including Animal & Bylaw Services, Waste & Recycling Services, The Public Safety Compliance Team, Calgary Transit Public Safety and Enforcement, Calgary Fire Department, Recreation and Parks.
The Government of Alberta: Ongoing support through funding of programs and partnerships with community agencies focused on crime prevention and education. These partnerships ensure children feel safe, and make better and healthier choices.
Alex Dental Health Bus: Provides preventative oral health school services, which includes oral health exams and referral, sealant and fluoride varnish treatments, as well as dental education. Access to restorative dental care is also provided to students and families.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary: Currently offer Food and Nutrition at School (FANS) in both schools, as well as the community after school programming at their Forest Lawn Club, co-located at Holy Trinity.
Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids: Currently provide lunch programs within the schools.
Calgary Public Library: Contribute to the after school programming at Patrick Airlie School, such as library collection, Read Aloud, Reading Buddy, Math Minds, and Computer Buddy.
Calgary Reads: Calgary Reads is reenergizing their relationship with Patrick Airlie where their one-on-one tutoring program has been active. Both schools will have resources and support to implement programs and activities with students, families and the community. Initiatives include the eight-week wee read program that matches adult and/or high school and/or university volunteers with kindergarten and Grade 1 children to share books and conversation, as well as Literacy-in-a Box, which helps educators promote family literacy in fun, engaging, and effective ways.
Hull Services: Through their evidence-based early intervention services and prevention initiatives within a number of Greater Forest Lawn schools, they currently partner with Patrick Airlie School in Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies (PATHS®), a universal violence prevention, social-emotional learning curriculum. Hull’s staff train Patrick Airlie teachers and support staff to implement the PATHS program, and integrate the objectives of positive social behaviour and higher emotional literacy into the culture of the classroom and whole school community.
Meals on Wheels: Provide the “Hot Soup” program on Tuesdays and Thursdays and supplement the other days with their hot entrée “Group Meal” program. The agency will also pilot a school breakfast program. They have also donated a convection oven and cambros to the project.
Mosaic Primary Care Network and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®: Will visit the schools to provide nutrition education, health screening, vision screening, and resource referrals.
Technology Tools to Help Get Kids Active: Funded by ACTIVE AT SCHOOL, and donated by Sport Chek: Children involved in the ISSP project will have access to a variety of technology tools such as fitness monitors and heart rate monitors to help them have a better understanding of the importance and impact of physical activity.
The Big Give Project: For fourteen years, they have supported equal opportunity for students to thrive in sports, regardless of social and financial constraints. From individual scholarships such as league fees, or a brand new pair of shoes, to investing in the sports community as a whole through sponsoring school athletic departments and summer camps, the Big Give Project has contributed over $500,000 to “Leveling the Playing Field” in Calgary’s sports community.
YMCA Calgary: Leads and co-ordinates the after school programming at Patrick Airlie School. Programming includes: Active Y Kids, School Support Program, and a Leadership program.